The last few days have been the inevitable chaos that comes with the end of the long summer, school holidays when we realise that our boys have grown to the extent that nothing fits any more and that the shops have been stripped clean of everything we need!
Then there is the start of the Rugby Season and looking at the calendar we now only have a Monday evening that is in any way rugby-free, what with youngest & eldest at training & matches & my hubby volunteering as a Steward at Exeter Chiefs – all I can say is it is a good thing we all love Rugby, otherwise it could become a bit wearing. (Although in the past it has been a good excuse for a trip to a French Rugby ground – so there is always a silver lining to be found)
Sadly though all this means that it already feels as if Autumn is upon us with the additional clues of the evenings drawing in and the inevitable early arrival of Christmas cards in the shops. So inevitably our minds start wandering ahead to next summer and our next trip to Provence. My hubby and I are fitting in a few sneaky days there at the end of the month (our 25th Anniversary giving us the perfect excuse to spend a late summer weekend cycling, walking and enjoying the area), but that is just a stop-gap until we can go again next year, with the boys.
There though lies the problem!
We love our family holidays and over the years the boys have generally been very accepting of what we enjoy doing on holiday, but this year we noticed a difference and for the first time they really didn’t want to trek around markets or just visit villages, much preferring days cycling and chilling by the pool. So much so that we have realised we need to change our approach and do something different, otherwise I fear they may start to ask to go ‘somewhere more exciting’, which to be honest wouldn’t be much of a holiday for us.
So our dilemma has been ‘How do we spend time in Provence, doing something we all enjoy?’ with the additional direction that it mustn’t involve trips to markets (apparently I’m almost obsessive)
This summer though appears to have given us an answer…..
Our family cycle up Ventoux was such good fun that it has made us think about doing a bigger cycle tour of the area. We have all enjoyed pottering about the area on bikes for many years, but our rides have just been circular routes (often involving a market!!), but perhaps now is the time to do something a little more adventurous. The boys will be 14 &17 so we have suggested a 7 day cycle tour of the area followed by a week ‘chilling’ in a house with a revisit of the family ascent of ‘Le Geant de Provence’ and a few other old favourites.
At the moment both boys have given it quite a firm thumbs up, which is great (as I was worried we may end up travelling without the eldest) – so we have started tentatively planning a route. There are many suggested routes, such as ‘Autour du Luberon’, the ‘Route des Ocres’ and ‘Pays de Forcalquier et Montagne de Lure’, and we will probably follow some, but also do a route that takes us to the places we love the most and others we haven’t yet visited.
We aren’t passionate campers and like a bit of comfort so rather than carrying tents etc we will aim to carry as little as possible and stay in hotels en route, which I am sure makes us more ‘credit-card’ than ‘adventure’ cyclists, but should suit us better.
We have already found two great web-sites
which has links to all the maps and additional info such as where to find drinking fountains and public toilets
which suggest routes and also accommodation, particulraly the cycle-friendly hotels around the area where you can leave cars, clean bikes, wash clothes and even get an early breakfast to set you on your way. In fact all the information you could ever wish for to help in the planning
Of course the holiday may not happen, but if anyone can think of a better way to pass the long Autumn and Winter Evenings than planning a Lavender-scented, sunny cycling trip in Provence then I’d love to hear it.
…………….. Don’t tell the family but I may plan to ‘accidentally’ arrive in a town on Market Day